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Series / Wiseguy

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This page is about the show. If you were redirected here from a link referring to a member of the mob, see The Mafia.

An American crime drama series that ran on CBS for four seasons (1987–90), starring Ken Wahl as Vincent "Vinnie" Terranova, an undercover agent for the OCB (Organized Crime Bureau), a fictional division of the FBI. A major theme was the constant ethical dilemmas faced by the protagonist, who had to befriend criminals with the eventual intention of betraying them.

Created by veteran hit producer Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo (yes, the same pair responsible for The A-Team), Wiseguy veered from the traditional "bad guy of the week" police procedural by breaking the drama into multi-episode Story Arcs that followed an infiltration — and its charismatic criminal target — to its logical conclusion, no matter the cost to criminal, innocent civilian, or cop (though there were standalone Breather Episodes in later seasons, mostly dealing with the personal lives of the characters). The show influenced writers like Chris Carter, Joss Whedon, and David Simon to build on the trope of showing both sides of the morality play in humanizing detail.


Tropes in this series include:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Isaac Twine bets his record company against $10 million of Winston Newquay's money in a single hand of poker. He loses, and later discovers that the game was rigged.
  • Abusive Parents: Eli Sternberg is emotionally abusive to his son David.
  • Affably Evil: Sonny Steelgrave, Susan Profitt, Knox Pooley, Albert Cerrico, and Don Aiuppo.
  • The Alcoholic: Jenny McPike.
  • All Just a Dream: "Romp."
  • Amoral Attorney: Roger Totland, Peter Alatorre, and Winston Chambers III.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Winston Newquay is crushed by Isaac Twine's death. He still dances on his grave, as per their pact with each other to do so once the first one dies.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Admiral Strichen.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Given to David Sternberg by Carol Goldman.
    David Sternberg: If your father choked on it, it was self-induced. And if your father has a problem with his masculinity, you better look to your mother for the probable— (slap)
  • Arms Dealer:
    • Renaldo Sikes in the pilot episode.
    • Mel Profitt, although his drug business gets more attention.
  • As You Know: Starting in Season 2, Vinnie, McPike, and the OCB honchos have a habit of gathering every few episodes to tell each other the broad strokes of their current investigation and the identities of the major players (of which they are all already well aware) for the benefit of those in the audience who came in late.
  • At the Opera Tonight: In "Battle of the Barge."
  • Audit Threat: In the Eli Sternberg arc, McPike is trying to get some information from a company that does business with the group that they are investigating. They refuse, until McPike says "If you don't let me in, I will call my friends at the IRS. They eat guys like you for breakfast". The company lets him in immediately.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Winston Newquay has a monologue expressing how much he really did love Claudia (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding) in "Living and Dying in 4/4 Time."
  • The Barnum: Knox Pooley.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Vinnie grows one during both of his Heroic BSODs.
  • Becoming the Mask: Vinnie's OCB handler Frank McPike often has to remind him that his job is to lock up the bad guys, not be their friend. It doesn't help that Vinnie is regarded as a trusted associate by the criminals, and a scumbag lowlife by the police.
  • Being Good Sucks: A hallmark of the series.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Santana and Hillary Stein.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Sonny's demise, when confronted by the prospect of a humiliating death by lethal injection.
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: McPike has a tendency to bug any place Vinnie is likely to be. Played for laughs when Vinnie is in bed with his Love Interest Amber Twine.
    Amber: "Aren't you going to tell McPike about this?"
    Vinnie: "Don't you know? McPike's already listening (shouts at bedstead) HEY MCPIKE!"
  • Big Damn Heroes: Prescott Wilson does this at the end of the Counterfeit Yen arc.
  • Big Fancy House: Mark Volchek's estate, Gorslava.
  • Big "NO!": Martinez-Gacha has one after being convicted.
  • Bond One-Liner: After killing Harriet Weiss with a golf club:
    John Kousakis: Harriet can't come to the phone right now. She's in the rough.
  • The Caligula: Mel Profitt.
  • The Cartel: Cuban-American crime lord Armando Guzman, investigated by Vinnie's replacement Michael Santana.
  • The Charmer: Isaac Twine.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Amado Guzman. As he puts it, he is "the archangel of betrayal."
  • Cigar Chomper:
    • Vinnie plays one during the Lynchboro arc.
    • Jack Bishop, which helps to bring him down.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Harriet Weiss and Charlie Boden make a recalcitrant goon talk by breaking his toes with a bowling pin.
  • Confess in Confidence: Vinnie's brother Pete, a Catholic priest, is the only one with whom he can break his cover because of the seal of the confessional. Later Vinnie is able to bring his mother in as well. The priest-hears-of-an-impending-murder plot also gets used.
  • Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: Averted as Vinnie uses his own identity, including an eighteen-month prison sentence to establish his credentials as a criminal. Unfortunately this alienates him from his own mother, who doesn't know he's a federal agent.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Winston Newquay and Isaac Twine, record company owners who make bootlegs of their own artists' albums, sell them under the table, and pocket the cash. (Newquay also has his artists invest their money with a firm that he secretly controls, allowing him to embezzle from them.)
    • Amado Guzman, whose empire of airlines, jewelry stores, and banks conceals a money laundering operation for The Cartel.
    • Harriet Weiss, owner of a carting company that illegally disposes of medical waste.
    • Jack Bishop, a defense contractor who makes bogus airplane parts and has a whistleblower killed.
    • The new generation of mafiosi style themselves like this, particularly Rick Pinzolo, who uses his garment industry connections to work a massive stock scam.
  • Corrupt Hick: Mark Volchek.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: In the second episode, Angelo lights a cigarette off of the burner of a gas stove before heading out to assassinate the special prosecutor.
  • Cut Short: Only one episode of the last story arc was filmed before the show was canceled.
  • Cutting the Knot: Rather than spend years working his way up the ranks of Sonny Steelgrave's organisation, Vinnie provokes a fight with Sonny, knowing he's Golden Gloves boxer who won't turn down a challenge. Naturally everyone thinks Vinnie will flee when he finds out he's antagonized a Mafia boss; when Vinnie turns up for the fight anyway, Sonny is impressed. Vinnie makes sure to lose the fight of course, but it's enough to get him recruited as a prospective member.
  • Da Chief: McPike is this to Vinnie in the first season. Once McPike and Vinnie start to actually like each other, Paul Beckstead is brought in to fill this role for both of them.
  • Daddy Issues: Mark Volchek has a bundle of them.
  • Dark Action Girl: Renaldo Sikes's "secretary" Raya Montenegro, who turns out to wield a mean machine gun.
  • Deadpan Snarker: McPike, all the way.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Mel Profitt. According to story editor Eric Blakeney, he was conceived as "a James Bond villain."
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: In the Dead Dog Records arc, the OCB treats record bootlegging the same way they previously treated drug smuggling, weapons trafficking, stock fraud, and extortion. (Ironically, this is the arc most subject to piracy since the show's original run, since disputes over the music rights have prevented it from being rebroadcast or released on DVD.)
  • Diplomatic Impunity: After the fecal matter hits the windmill on his criminal dealings, Amado Guzman takes refuge in the El Salvadoran consulate, where the FBI can't touch him, and then arranges to be smuggled out of the country.
  • Dirty Old Man: Mike McPike.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Susan Profitt, after she completely loses her mind.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Winston Newquay was born Samuel Fishbein, and the easiest way to get under his skin is to call him "Sammy."
  • Domestic Abuse: Winston Newquay verbally abuses his wife Claudia, and she physically abuses him right back.
  • The Don: Don Baglia and Don Aiuppo.
  • Downer Ending: The Rag Trade arc. Eli Sternberg is bankrupted, David and Carole Sternberg are killed, and Raglin flips out, murders Pinzolo, and resigns from the FBI.
  • The Dragon:
    • Roger Loccoco, to Mel Proffit and Herb Ketcher.
    • Herb Ketcher, to Admiral Strichen.
    • Calvin Hollis, to Knox Pooley.
    • Richard Bickel, to Winston Newquay.
    • Carlo Spoletta, to Joey Grosset.
    • Admiral Strichen, to General Masters.
    • Sheriff Stem, to Mark Volchek.
    • Charlie Boden, to Harriet Weiss.
    • Dagoberto Machado, to Amado Guzman.
    • Axel Whitman, to Jack Bishop.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Calvin Hollis.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Carlo Spoletta.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Roger Loccoco.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sonny Steelgrave, Mel Profitt (although he gets someone else to do the deed), Herb Ketcher, Johnny Coke Bottles, and Kay Gallagher (although she fails).
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Vinnie is abducted and apparently killed offscreen at the beginning of Season 4. He got better in time for the reunion movie.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: Prescott Wilson, although he's actually a billionaire.
  • Empty Cop Threat: During the Sonny Steelgrave arc, McPike is the recipient of an implied one from a rival law enforcement agency also investigating Steelgrave. McPike responds with a real threat as hilarity ensues.
    Frank: Interfere with my investigation again, and your next job will be night watchman at the Meadlowlands.
    Rival Supervisor: (Pulls a tape recorder from his desk} You just made an on-the-record threat towards a law enforcement official.
    Frank: No, that wasn't a threat. But if you keep this up, I'll make sure even the Meadowlands won't hire you. Now THAT'S a threat. (walks out)
  • Engineered Public Confession: Winston Newquay falls prey to this old chestnut. Unfortunately as a result he's able to argue entrapment and the case gets thrown out.
  • Epiphany Therapy: McPike and Loccoco use this on Mark Volchek.
  • Evil Brit: Winston Newquay played so well by Tim Curry.
  • Evil Duo: International Arms Dealer Mel Profitt and his sister Susan. As teens they killed their foster brother (by hanging him upside down until he passed out, then throwing him in the swimming pool) when he found out about their incestuous relationship. Together they form a "psychotic critical mass", as McPike describes it.
  • Evil Old Folks: Don Baglia, "No Money" Mahoney, Don Aiuppo, General Masters, Harriet Weiss, Charlie Boden, and Amado Guzman.
  • Faking the Dead: Roger Loccoco. Also the prosecutor Vinnie 'kills' to prove himself to Sonny, though an ambitious prosecutor willing to hide for years just to uphold an agent's cover is a bit unlikely.
  • Family-Values Villain: Albert Cerrico.
  • Fat Bastard: "No Money" Mahoney.
  • Faux Affably Evil: "Pat the Cat" Patrice, Rick Pinzolo, Admiral Strichen, and Amado Guzman.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Vinnie and McPike.
  • Frameup: The Counterfeit Yen arc is this for Vinnie and Kay Gallagher.
  • Fixing the Game: Winston Newquay rigs his Absurdly High-Stakes Game with Isaac Twine.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Sid Royce.
  • Freak Out: Sid Royce has a doozy of one when his wife leaves him in "To Die in Bettendorf."
  • Friendly Enemies: Rival record company owners Isaac Twine and Winston Newquay.
  • The Gambling Addict: Isaac Twine.
  • Gaslighting: Roger Loccoco does this to Susan Profitt after Mel's death.
  • Go Among Mad People: In "White Noise," Vinnie checks into a hospital for a physical and, due to the machinations of Daryl Elias, ends up committed to the psychiatric ward, where he is kept physically restrained and drugged at all times.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Pete Tarranova and Father Pat.
  • Government Conspiracy: A secret group within the Washington D.C. hierarchy plans to use Mel Profitt to finance a coup against a communist regime in the Caribbean. When Vinnie causes this plan to fail they frame him as the mastermind behind another conspiracy to destabilise the Japanese economy with counterfeit yen.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Martinez-Gacha, head of The Cartel, in the Miami arc.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Mike McPike. He makes his son Frank look absolutely cheerful.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Sonny Steelgrave, Mel Profitt, Calvin Hollis, Joey Grosset, and Albert Cerrico all suffer from this.
  • Hammerspace: In the first episode The Mafia is surprised to see an Arms Dealer bring a woman to their meeting. As things go badly we see her casually unbuttoning her skirt (how she does this without attracting attention is not explained), then she somehow produces an Ingram MAC-10 and starts blazing away. Now admittedly the MAC-10 is quite small for an SMG, but it's still a large chunk of metal to be hiding between your legs while wearing a tight skirt. It's worth noting that this was based on a scene in The Underground Empire where the narrator noticed two women at an arms deal were concealing firearms between their legs just from the way they sat down.
  • Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: Happens twice to Vinnie regarding the above conspiracies; first as a witness, then as a suspect.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Hillary Stein.
  • Heroic BSoD: Vinnie considers resigning after his first target (Atlantic City mob boss Sonny Steelgrave) commits suicide rather than face prison; when the suicide of another target reminds him of this event he suffers a complete breakdown and flees the OCB. The protagonist of the Garment Trade Arc, retired agent John Henry Raglin, suffers PTSD from an earlier case where two whistleblowers were murdered.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Isaac Twine suffers two of them in "Living and Dying in 4/4 Time."
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Lacey Versailles, madam of the Corvette Club brothel in the Lynchboro arc.
  • Houseboat Hero: Michael Santana lives on a broken-down houseboat after he gets disbarred.
  • Humiliation Conga: Winston Newquay experiences an epic one. He does not handle it well.
  • I Have No Son!: Said by Carlotta Terranova after her son goes to prison. He eventually tells her about his double life, and all is forgiven.
  • High-Voltage Death: Sonny kills himself this way, rather than face prison.
  • I Own This Town:
    • Mark Volchek, through his ownership of Volchek Mining and Volchek Lumber, controls the town of Lynchboro, Washington with an iron fist.
    • Prescott Wilson literally does own an entire town in Utah.
  • Identical Grandson: Vinnie Terranova's dad (in an episode based around his father's diary). But they gave him a moustache.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!:
    • In the first episode Sonny Steelgrave, already partly suspicious of Vinnie, declares the only way he can prove himself is to shoot a prosecutor who's been hounding him.
    • Roger Loccoco has Vinnie join him on a hit (arson) before bringing him into the Proffits' business.
    • Humorously subverted in the Lynchboro arc: Vinnie thinks Volchek is testing him this way when he tells him to "get rid of somebody," but Volchek is really just telling Vinnie to throw him off the property. When Vinnie shows up with an urn ostensibly containing the troublemaker's remains, Volchek is shocked.
  • Immigrant Parents: Both Terranova and Santana.
  • Initiation Ceremony: Played for humor when Vinnie becomes a made man — Sonny thinks it's no longer relevant in this day and age, while none of the old-time mobsters can agree on what the correct procedure is.
  • Insufferable Genius: Mel Profitt and Johnny Medley.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Mark Rogosheke.
  • Jewish Mother: Hillary Stein's mother, Rachel.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Knox Pooley avoids prosecution, gets to keep most of the money he made, and is last seen selling condos in Florida.
    • Charlie Boden is never even suspected of wrongdoing, let alone charged with anything.
    • Subverted with Winston Newquay, who wriggles out of criminal charges but nevertheless sees his entire life utterly destroyed.
  • Karmic Death: Amado Guzman, the self-proclaimed "archangel of betrayal," is murdered with the aid of his manservant, who was secretly loyal to the death squad Guzman ratted out.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Rick Pinzolo really deserves what Raglin does to him.
  • Killer Cop: Detective Jack Phillips, Sheriff Stem, and Assistant Commissioner Charlie Boden.
  • Lady Macbeth: Gina Grosset.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Dead Dog Records arc is this to the rest of the show. The crimes under investigation are copyright evasion, embezzlement, and tax fraud; violence is almost nonexistent and on one occasion Played for Laughs; and the only deaths are two accidents and a heart attack.
  • Madness Mantra: Mel Profitt's "Only the toes, knows".
  • The Mafia: Sonny Steelgrave, Garment Trade and Mafia War arcs.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Daryl Jenkins is dealt with this way in "Dead Right."
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Winston Newquay, Charlie Boden, and Amado Guzman.
  • Mission Control: Daniel Burroughs, AKA "Lifeguard", a disabled agent who communicates mostly via telephone (posing as Vinnie's "Uncle Mike"). Vinnie calls him daily to pass on and receive information; he also has codewords for when he's in trouble.
  • Mob War: The Mafia War arc.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Amado Guzman.
  • Mr. Exposition: This seems to be Mark Sirmac's role in the OCB.
  • Never My Fault: General Masters is pathological about this, even to the extent of claiming that the disturbing dreams he's had were actually Admiral Strichen's.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Prescott Wilson is based on Howard Hughes.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Winston Newquay is pronounced Noo-kway in the show, rather than Nyoo-key in the English fashion. To be fair, Winston did immigrate to Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Obliviously Evil: Mark Volchek. It's clear that he has zero malice whatsoever and genuinely believes he is helping the town. Even Lococco points out that while Volchek is clearly a few fries short of a Happy Meal, he's not a criminal.
  • Orderlies are Creeps: The head orderly in "White Noise" certainly is.
  • Out with a Bang: Eddie Tempest and Claudia Newquay.
  • Overlord Jr.: Aldo Baglia tries mightily to be this, but fails. Rick Pinzolo does a better job of it.
  • Perma-Stubble: Vinnie sports one whenever he's not working a case.
  • Pet the Dog: Most villains have these moments at one time or another, leading to Wangst on the part of the hero. It's Vinnie's own mother who points out that Adolf Hitler and Attila the Hun had moments of genuine compassion too, but that didn't offset the evil that they did.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Dewitt Clipton and Winston Chambers.
  • Police Brutality:
    • During the Pilgrims of Promise arc, the NYPD thinks Vinnie killed an off-duty cop and they beat nine kinds of hell out of him before McPike and Elias manage to spring him. When the real killer is arrested, he's last seen antagonizing these same cops...and is later reported to have hanged himself in his cell.
    • During the Rag Trade arc, Raglin pistol whips Pinzolo and breaks his jaw. At the end of the arc, he guns Pinzolo down in cold blood to protect Vinnie's cover.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Knox Pooley and his follower Calvin Hollis, leaders of the white supremacist group Pilgrims of Promise. Pooley turns out to be a Con Man just in it for the money, while Hollis suffers a Villainous Breakdown after Pooley rejects him.
    • Mel Profitt has a tendency to hurl ethnic slurs at Vinnie when he's upset with him.
    • In "Sins of the Father", a sting is blown because Carlo Spoletta refuses to do business with black people.
    • The corrupt CIA agent White has a few choice things to say about "Latin males."
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Dagoberto Machado.
  • Professional Killer: Roger Loccoco who turns out to be a Deep Cover Agent for the CIA.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • In his intro episode, Mel Profitt causes a gang war by insisting that an associate's fiancee is a Deep Cover Agent for the federal government. Despite the fact that his only "evidence" is that her family is from Virginia, he turns out to be right.
    • Sonny Steelgrave becomes suspicious of Vinnie when he's told that among a number of driving licenses Vinnie has, is one from Quantico (also in Virginia).
    Sonny: So, he was a Marine.
  • Psycho for Hire: Cruz Machado.
  • Rearrange the Song: The Mike Post theme was given a Latin upgrade in Season 4.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: "Pat the Cat" Patrice plans to have Vinnie killed after Vinnie helps him assassinate Sonny Steelgrave, because "I despise a betrayer."
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The Mel Profitt arc (and the pilot episode where Sonny Steelgrave gets into a hotel gunfight with a weapons dealer) draws from the non-fiction Doorstopper The Underground Empire by James Mills.
  • Running Gag: People love to make fun of Rick Pinzolo's juicer. When David Sternberg finally loses it, he takes great pleasure in destroying the contraption in front of Pinzolo.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Mel Profitt wasn't exactly a paragon of rationality to begin with, but he starts to come completely unglued in the second half of his story arc. His sister Susan loses her mind after his death.
    • Winston Newquay has a complete mental breakdown and ends up institutionalized.
  • Scary Black Man:
    • The machete-wielding ex-Ton Ton Macoute boss in the Guzman arc. When he makes the fatal mistake of insulting Guzman's manhood, however...
    • Hilariously subverted when music mogul Newquay is locked up in a cell with a Scary Black Man who's twice as big as he is. Newquay clearly fears the worst, only to have his fellow inmate join him in an enthusiastic duet of "Soul Man".
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • Winston Newquay has heavy political pull and isn't afraid to throw it around.
    • Amado Guzman's drug and money laundering operations have been bulletproof for decades because of his involvement in CIA covert ops in Latin America.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Prescott Wilson rolls like that. And it works, too: he muscles his way into a closed-door session of the Senate, tells everyone off without even bothering to be sworn in to testify, and walks right back out. No one bothers to stop him.
  • Secret-Keeper: For most of Season one, Vinnie's brother Pete, a priest, is the only person outside of law enforcement who knows Vinnie is undercover.
  • Secret Test of Character: Amado Guzman pulls this on both Santana and Dagoberto Machado. Santana passes, but Machado fails.
  • Serial Killer: The Stun Gun Killer in the Lynchboro arc.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mark Volchek likes to indulge in this.
  • Smug Snake: Rick Pinzolo, Winston Newquay, and Amado Guzman.
  • The Sociopath: Rick Pinzolo and Jack Bishop.
  • Spicy Latina: Dahlia Mendez.
  • The Starscream:
    • John Kousakis, to Harriet Weiss.
    • Dagoberto Machado, to Amado Guzman.
  • Subordinate Excuse: Admiral Strichen is having an affair with his aide-de-camp.
  • Superdickery: The promos for "The One That Got Away" showed Vinnie threatening to shoot Bobby Travis and Winston Newquay, neither of which happened in the actual episode.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After a dispute with the producers, Ken Wahl was replaced by actor Steven Bauer, playing disbarred Cuban-American prosecutor Michael Santana. Vinnie had ostensibly been killed (offscreen) by a death squad while investigating the smuggling of Salvadorean refugees.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • Vinnie and McPike really don't like each other at the start of the series. They develop into Heterosexual Life-Partners through the course of the show(with a lot of Vitriolic Best Buds added in).
    • Santana and McPike despise Winston Chambers (and vice versa).
  • Temporary Substitute: During the second season Garment Industry story arc, when Vinnie got roughed up by a loan shark and was replaced by retired agent John Henry Raglin. In reality, actor Ken Wahl broke his ankle doing a stunt on the show and needed time to recover.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Daryl Elias, in the episode "White Noise."
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Lynchboro, Seattle; run as the personal fiefdom of Mark Volchek and unknown to him, harbouring a Serial Killer. It turns out that Volchek is actually an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. He suffers from a phobia of death, so intends to build a cyrogenic storage hospital for the entire town so no-one will ever die. Frank McPike and Roger Loccoco snap him out of it though.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: They show up in the Mafia Wars arc, where they are portrayed as Ruthless Foreign Gangsters who supply bombs to terrorists.
  • Trophy Wife: Claudia Newquay.
  • Trouble Entendre:
    • Mark Volchek orders Vinnie to "get rid" of a teenager who tried to shoot him, and is shocked when Vinnie returns with a jar supposedly containing the boy's ashes. Volchek is surprisingly horrified, as he only meant for the boy to be sent out of his sight, not harmed in any way. He does however praise his initiative and they decide on a codeword to avoid future "misunderstandings".
    • In the Mafia Wars arc, Don Aiuppo tells Vinnie that Cericco is planning to have him killed, so Vinnie is to follow him and see who he meets. "They will be the assassins." Vinnie reports this to Frank McPike.
      Vinnie: Aiuppo wants me to follow Cericco.
      Frank: He wants you to kill him.
      Vinnie: He didn't say that.
      Frank: He doesn't have to.
  • True Companions: Vinnie, Frank and Lifeguard, especially Season Two on. Non-Arc breather episodes developed their outside of work friendship quite a bit.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Exploited by Santana in "Dead Right."
  • Verbal Tic: Roger Lococco calls pretty much everyone "Buckwheat" at one point or another, including a black man.
    • Sid Royce ends just about every sentence with an inquisitive "yes?".
  • Vigilante Man: After white supremicists murder his brother Pete (a Catholic priest) Vinnie considers killing the man responsible. Vinnie eventually decides to bring him to justice only for the villain to be killed in custody by local police for his role in the death of a black officer.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: General Masters and Amado Guzman.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Happens at least once per story arc, usually in epic, scenery-chewing fashion.
  • Villainous Incest: Mel and Susan Profitt are shown as strongly as possible (given late-'80s standards and practices) to have an incestuous relationship.
  • Visionary Villain/Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mark Volchek.
  • The Voiceless: Cruz Machado, who had his tongue cut out in prison.
  • Wealthy Yacht Owner: Mel Profitt lives on a mega-yacht with its own helipad.
  • Why Are You Not My Son?: Amado Guzman starts to feel this way about Santana, even to the point of referring to him as "son" after a while.
  • Wicked Cultured: Winston Newquay, Mel Profitt, and Albert Cerrico.